Why Macs Never Had a Touchscreen

MacBooks have welcomed various new technologies, but never a touch screen. Here is the reason.

Since 2006 and the release of the very first model, MacBooks have been among the most popular laptops in the world, with ever-increasing sales. Two models are currently on the market: the MacBook Air, ultra-thin and very easy to take everywhere, and the MacBook Pro, more expensive, but which includes many new technologies, such as the ProMotion in 2021.

But while the MacBook Pro has always been feature-rich, there’s one that Apple never offered: the touchscreen. And yet, there are plenty of opportunities. The hype for touch screens on laptops is now down, but 4 or 5 years ago, many computers were equipped with them. And yet, Apple has never offered a MacBook Air or Pro with a touch screen. A surprising choice, especially when you know that Apple was a precursor with its multi-touch on the iPhone.

In 2018, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, explained why his company never opted for a touchscreen MacBook. “We really think the ergonomics of using a Mac is that your hands are resting on a surface (the touchpad, editor’s note), and reaching up to touch the screen is a pretty tiring thing to do. ”

To avoid over-tiring the user, Apple opted for the famous Touch Bar in 2016. An ingenious touch screen that is positioned just below the screen, on the same surface as the keyboard and touchpad. A device that also wants to be faster and more easily accessible than a touch screen when you have your fingers on the keyboard. Eventually, Apple will return to the good old function keys in 2021 after realizing that users prefer a traditional keyboard.

More complicated navigation

But the problem with a touch screen is that it would complicate navigation. Currently, two interfaces are offered to the user: the keyboard and the Trackpad. A touch screen would force macOS to manage a third input device, which would force teams to adapt the operating system.

Finally, a touch device would undoubtedly lead to an increase in the price of the MacBook, but also a loss of finesse of the cover. On the one hand, the touch device is an additional technology to be integrated into the Mac, and an expensive technology moreover. The first to be impacted will then be the customers who will have to pay a high price.

On the other hand, a touch screen is enabled thanks to a thin layer sensitive to electricity present on the surface of our fingers. This layer may be thin, but introducing it behind the MacBook screen would increase the thickness of the screen, while Apple is constantly seeking to refine its screens. It would then occupy space for no reason in the hood of the MacBook, which Apple does not really appreciate. The jack port and the 3D Touch of the iPhone, considered useless and taking up space for no real reason, have paid the price…

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